Update to Governor Dunleavy’s Proposal to Reorganize the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services

March 15, 2021

UPDATE! Governor Mike Dunleavy is withdrawing his plan to split the Department of Health and Social Services into two agencies, citing “techinical issues” with the executive order that set the plan out. Read here for more information.

December 29, 2020

Governor Mike Dunleavy recently directed the Alaska Department of Law to draft an executive order (EO) reorganizing the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services into two distinct executive branch departments: the Alaska Department of Health and the Alaska Department of Family & Community Services.

Alaska Department of Health

The Alaska Department of Health will promote and protect the health and wellbeing of Alaskans. The department will serve as the eligibility, payment, and data department that will focus on whole person care by leveraging evidence based, data driven practices and care models to make the most appropriate care available to recipients at the appropriate cost. In addition to housing the state’s Chief Medical Officer, the department will consist of the following divisions.

  1. Division of Senior & Disabilities Services
  2. Division of Behavioral Health
  3. Division of Public Health
  4. Division of Public Assistance
  5. Division of Health Care Services

Alaska Department of Family & Community Services 

The Alaska Department of Family and Community Services will ensure the safety and personal wellbeing of vulnerable Alaskans. The department will focus on early intervention and prevention to strengthen Alaska families and provide a focused approach to services for individual Alaskans. The department will consist of the following divisions.

  1. Division of Juvenile Justice
  2. Office of Children’s Services
  3. Alaska Psychiatric Institute
  4. Alaska Pioneer Homes

Each department will include a division for Finance & Management Services.

Gov. Dunleavy stated that the reorganization will streamline and improve the delivery of critical programs and services while creating more flexibility and responsiveness in both departments resulting in improved outcomes.

The EO establishing two executive branch departments will be submitted during the regular session of the 32nd Alaska Legislature in January. Its members have 60 days to disapprove it or it becomes law. The EO will be effective July 1, 2021.

The reorganization will not reduce programs or services to Alaskans who are currently served. The reorganization is intended to establish a firm foundation for each department that will lead to increased focus on services and outcomes for the Alaskans that are served. Governor Dunleavy and Commissioner Crum will engage with stakeholders, tribal health organizations, DHSS employees, and legislators about the executive order and will welcome their feedback as this process moves forward.

Individuals with questions regarding the reorganization may send their questions to dhssreorg@alaska.gov.

  • Read the full press release here.
  • A FAQ on the proposed executive order can be found here.